We’re Talking SNOW Today…

March 7th Photo from Appalachian. Saturday's Wounded Warrior Event was a huge success! Thanks to the Appalachian Ski Patrol for making this special day happen, and to all the Warriors for their sacrifices made for our country!

Before I get to the numbers that I plan to share pertaining to natural snowfall totals this season, I failed to mention yesterday that Kenny Griffin is now enjoying a few days off out in Tahoe. I forget which mountain he is based at but I know that as of this past Monday that area was bombed with from 30-48″ of snow. I got an alert this morning that it was 44° there this morning. This is Kenny’s first trip out west and everyone’s first trip out there deserves to be awesome.

As I was typing this I received another alert that Beaver Creek has 4″ of new snow this morning. Needless to say it has been a very snowy Winter for the western and Colorado ski resorts.


Meanwhile…back in East…

This image is of Wisp this morning and bear in mind that we're seeing "Spring Conditions" popping up at all resorts. Tis the season.
This image is of Wisp this morning and bear in mind that we’re seeing “Spring Conditions” popping up at all resorts. Tis the season. (Click to enlarge!)

Over the last few mornings each of the resorts have seemingly decided that the mild temperatures that are some 10-15° warmer than normal for this time of year are such that it melts exactly 2″ of snow per day. [Insert sarcasm.] However that is the number that seems to be acceptable to show – whether it is a marketing number or one pulled from a hat. (No resort goes out and measures it.)

Highs today here in the High Country are expected to reach near 70°.

I shared the impressive base depths that are covering the slopes of the southeast in Wednesday’s FirsTrax report, so just KNOW that there IS plenty of good snow depth and side-to-side coverage at this point. With the continued mild temps and some rain in the forecast, the good conditions right now might be the best conditions left in this season as there are just 16-17 days left in this ski and snowboarding season. We already know that Appalachian and Snowshoe plans to ride until March 27th and Cataloochee’s end of season date is the 26th.

Others will call it quits this Sunday (Omni Homestead just announced that this Sunday will be their last day of the season and Canaan previous announced the 13th as their final day), and some will close on the 20th (Timberline is among those).

We’re seeing current, early-morning temps below and highs forecasted in the mid-70s at some locations. (Massanutten 75° later today.)

Ober Gatlinburg – 61.9°
Wisp Resort is showing a 58° temp this morning
Beech Mountain – 44°
Snowshoe – 53°
Canaan Valley – 56°
Winterplace – 52°
Appalachian – 52°
Bryce – 50°
Massanutten – 50°
Wintergreen – 56°



With the close of this ski and snowboarding season just days away AND with the 15 day forecast showing NO really cold temperatures – we’re going to go out on a limb and say that whatever the snow totals reflect right now are what we’re going to get.

(Obviously we could see some snow late in the month…but the forecast from now through March 24th is for highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s and lows in the 50s, mid 40s and upper 30s. So it’s looking like the end of the season will resemble the beginning.)

So let’s take a look at how the prognosticators did for this season. Remember before the first Autumn leaves began to fall off the trees, weather gurus like Ray Russell and meteorologists from our Brad Panovich to Joe Bastardi to OpenSnow ALL forecasted “A MUCH SNOWIER THAN NORMAL WINTER”.

Most had us getting 125-150% of our normal snowfall. Ray Russell went as far as predicting 110″ for Beech Mountain and 105″ for Sugar.

Let’s see how these guys did.

Resort                This Season    Normal   % of Normal
Snowshoe                119.5″        180        66.4%
Canaan Valley             98.6″       180″       54.7%
Timberline                  98.6″       180″       54.7%
Wisp Resort                 86″         100″       86%
Beech Mountain          68.7″        80″       85.8%
Sugar Mountain          58.6″         78″       75%
Winterplace Resort      57″         100″       57%
Wolf Ridge                   48″          65″        73.8%
Massanutten                40″          35″        114% (!!!)
Wintergreen                39″           34″        111% (!!!)
Omni Homestead        35″           50″        70%
Bryce Resort                31″           30″        100.3%
Cataloochee                29″           40″         72.5%
Appalachian                26″           50″         52%
Ober Gatlinburg          24″           35″         68.5%
Sapphire                     14.6″        30″         48.6%

So those big fat 125%-150% of normal predictions were off by a country mile! Interestingly, three of the four Virginia ski resorts pulled 100% to 114% of their normal snowfall. The lowest snowfall this season compared to average was at Sapphire Valley but to be honest that number is skewed by the fact that their marketing material SAYS that they average 30″ of snowfall annually whereas we’ve found that not to be the case over the 20 years that we’ve monitored snowfall at every resort.

Here’s the last nine seasons at Sapphire:

Snowfall 2014-2015: 10.5″
Snowfall 2013-2014: 6″
Snowfall 2012-2013: 5″
Snowfall 2011-2012: 2.5″
Snowfall 2010-2011: 23.1″
Snowfall 2009-2010: 32.9″
Snowfall 2008-2009: 7″
Snowfall 2007-2008: 4″
Snowfall 2006-2007: 22″

So their average is really closer to 18″ of snow over the last 20 years and 12.5″ over the last 9 seasons.

That would mean that Appalachian Ski Mountain received the least amount of snow this season compared to normal with only 52% of normal snowfall.

Needless to say that the local, regional and national prognosticators all got it BIG TIME wrong this season.

We can hope that they ALL predict 50% of normal snowfall for next season and perhaps then we’ll see a snow-filled 2016-2017 winter.


Until next time…

Enjoy your day and THINK SNOW! THINK COLD! Email me anytime and about anything at: [email protected]


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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.